(An excerpt from my #TwitterBook. The book is available at Amazon.com. — andreas)

One of the ways to measure success is to look for numbers. When you have a lot of bottle caps, you’re the king of bottle caps on your street. Of course, that starts the race to collect bottle caps every way you can.

The same on Twitter. Twitter shows you how many people follow you which turns into a game for the sake of numbers.

It’s understandable to want followers. It’s sad to tweet if nobody is listening. And it’s cool to see your follower numbers go up. And that’s okay for most people.

But two groups go too far: celebrities and bean counters. A celebrity‘s weight is measured in fans. 10 million fans are bigger than 4 million. Celebrity magazines love these lists. The bean counters have 50,000 fans, which is nowhere near celebrity status. So they’ll do anything to get more fans.

18.4 million people follow Kim Kardashian. But are they real or fake? According to StatusPeople.com, seven million (38%) of her followers are fake. Another six million are inactive accounts. Only 5.3 million (29%) are real accounts. 13m of her 18.4m followers don’t exist.

It’s not just bimbo celebrities who fake it. Biz Stone (co-founder of Twitter, @biz) has 2m followers and 70% are fake or inactive. Twitter could easily get rid of these fake and inactive accounts. This would stop the inflation. But Twitter allows it because this makes Twitter look bigger.

It’s not necessary to have 100,000 followers. You can have only two followers (your mom and your cat) and that’s fine, because your tweets are available to everyone on Twitter. It’s the content of the tweets that matter, not the followers.

Wait, Followers Don’t Matter?

Followers don’t matter because most of them aren’t reading your postings, just like you’re not reading their postings. If it’s just a few people who you personally know, then yes, you’ll likely read their postings. I read the postings from the 42 people that I follow.

But if someone is following 500 people, there’s no way he can read several hundred postings daily. I’ve talked with a number of people about this. Several told me they’re fine with only a few hundred followers. They’d rather reach people who care than send messages that get ignored. It’s a different for celebrities. Millions of fans read every tweet. For the rest of us, we live in reality.

How to Get Fake Followers

So your boss sees you only have two followers (your mom and your cat) and he starts yapping about it’s time to bring in people who get social media. No problem. You can get lots of followers. There are three ways:

  • Buy followers. Pay $10 and get 20,000 followers. Use a search engine and look for buy Twitter followers. Many organizations, movie stars, and politicians do this. That’s how they have 3,000,000 followers (you can get a bulk discount for 100,000 or more). Prices range from $0.10 to $0.01 per follower. You can also buy fake followers for Facebook, Google+, YouTube, and just about every social site.
  • Create followers. A director at a global marketing company told me they have armies of zombie accounts. They use these to add fake Likes, Followers, and comments to clients. Clients get happy when they see 300,000 followers cheering their dumb product.
  • Be a celebrity in Twitter. If you’re in the list of recommended celebrities, new users at Twitter will follow you because they don’t know any better. This is follower inflation: if you have 500,000 followers, you’ll get yet more followers.

Teens call this Like Whores; people who chase after Likes and followers. (Several people asked me about this so-called global marketing company. On advice from an attorney (really), I won’t say the name. They can sue, regardless of the facts.)

Another Way to Get Followers

There’s a fourth way. Many people will follow you if you follow them.

  • Follow 300 people on Monday. Just pick them at random. Go to someone’s page (especially someone with lots of followers) and look at their list of followers. Do clicky-clicky and add people at random.
  • About 150 of them (50%) will follow you in return.
  • On Tuesday, follow another 300 people. You’ll get another 150 followers.
  • Keep doing this. You can add 150 followers every day. After 30 days, you’ll have 4,500 followers.
  • Keep doing this. You can easily get 20-30,000 followers.

Like I said, this works, and I know because I tested this for you, my dear reader. I created an account for my cat with a photo, bio, and two tweets. Each day, I added 100 followers. The new follower rate varied from 48% to 72% per day. After ten days, the account was following 1,004 people and had 552 followers (55% success rate). It still had only two tweets. You can get 4,500-5,000 followers per month. You can also go out in the street and jump up and down. That’s just as meaningless.

  • Search Twitter for #followback to find people who’ll follow you if you follow them. 70% or more will follow you.
  • Don’t add more than 300-400 people per day. Twitter doesn’t like aggressive following. They’ll delete your account.

What’s the Point of Fake Followers?

You’re wondering, why do this? These are random people. Isn’t this a waste of time? And it’s fake. Who are they kidding? The answer is complicated:

  • Will they read your tweets? Just as likely as you’ll read their tweets, which is no. Your dog will laugh at you.
  • But many people don’t know this. When they look at your account and see 50,000 followers, they think wow, you’re so popular!
  • When your boss sees you have seven followers and Joe Slick has 50,000, your boss will think you’re a loser. He tells you to get followers or move back to your mom’s basement.

People want followers so they hire ad agencies which buy fake numbers. Celebrities need to appear popular, so their press agents add a few million followers. Bosses are happy, clients are happy, and followers feel they’re following a leader.

Be careful. If you buy followers, you may be dealing with hackers who create fake accounts to infect computers. There’s also a risk of credit card fraud, bank fraud, and blackmail. I advise you not to buy fake accounts or followers. This is also why I think most social metrics tools are worthless. Klout, Kred, PeerIndex, and others can be easily spoofed. Want a big Klout score? No problem! Whip out your credit card and you’ll be a local hero.

Are They Fake or Real? How to Tell

You can use StatusPeople to check someone’s account to see if they have fake accounts. Many celebrities have 50% or more fake followers. If your account is following fake or inactive people, use TwitBlock or ManageFlitter to delete them.

How to Get Real Followers

There’s another way to get followers. This is what I did for my own account.

  • Write books, articles, blog postings, and tweets with useful information
  • Talk at conferences and put your Twitter ID in your Powerpoints
  • Put your Twitter ID in your newsletters
  • Tell your friends. Add your @name to your email address line, your website’s contact page, and your pages at Facebook, LinkedIn, and so on
  • Go to Twitter | Me | Find More Suggestions | Find Friends | Select your email account. Twitter will see which of your friends are on Twitter and connect them to you

Over five years, my follower count has grown to just over 1,000 people (Oct. 2014). This is natural growth with real followers. I prefer 1,000 real people instead of a million fake followers. (Excerpt from #TwitterBook, 2nd edition, revised for 2014.)

Get the Whole Book for Free

Want the rest of the book? Get my #TwitterBook at Amazon.com.